God has blessed me with amazing relationships, beyond all I asked or imagined, during my time here in Spain.

Going into this month, I had met Hannah Wineland in choir, but we were more aquaintances than friends.  Spain changed all of that.
Hannah and I became inseparable during our first few days in Alcoy.  She was a lifesaver for me.  I needed a friend that I could confide in, complain to, and a sister with whom I could laugh.  She gave me all of these things and more.  She didn't have to, but she came to my adult class every night and was my assistant.  She also led one of my conversation groups every night.  We ate together, walked together, shopped, climbed mountains, and took lots and lots and lots of pictures.  In general, we were simply partners in crime.  Hannah was only in Spain for the first two weeks of the month and I miss her dearly, but I am so very thankful that she has become a part of my life.  Without Spain, I wouldn't have Hannah, and without Hannah, my time in Spain would not have been nearly as bright and fun.

God has also blessed me with wonderful professors.  Dr. Eric and Lisa Oglesbee have gone above and beyond the call of duty here in Spain.  They have not only guided and advised us, but they have cooked and cleaned for us, counseled and endured us, and they have laughed at us and with us.  Though I am their student, they treat me as an adult and a friend.  My respect for them and what they do at Bethel is enormous. Lisa teaches English as a second language in the US (she and Eric have also taught English in China) and I am inspired by her passion, talent, and the love she has for her students and for teaching.  It has been wonderful getting to know Lisa and Eric and their boys (Tobin and Ian), and it has been so amusing to find how very alike Lisa and I are. From our passion for TESOL and our philosophies of education, to our personalities and pet peeves, "we are the same person," she says.  I have always respected Lisa as a teacher and we have enjoyed a wonderful student-teacher relationship, but God has now added another dimension to our relationship; that of friendship.  I am so excited and blessed by this!

[Quick Katie and Lisa story:  The Oglesbees had a large group of us over to their apartment for tacos on tuesday night.  After supper, a small group decided to hike up the nearby mountain to visit the ruins of a castle.  The base of the mountain is about twenty minutes away walking, and the hike up is probably an hour.  The Oglesbees live in Cocentina and this group (and I) were going to need to be taken back to Alcoy after their hike.  We waited for them back at the apartment, but it was getting late and we were tired so Lisa and I took the car to the base of the mountain to wait for them in order to save time.  We waited and waited at the base of the mountain and they didn't come and they didn't come.  It was very dark and we were starting to get nervous that they had not yet arrived.  The high beams on the car weren't working so Lisa didn't feel comfortable driving up the mountain, but we felt like we needed to start up and see if we could find them.  So, we walked.  It was pitch black and we were winding up this mountain path and I, nervously giggling, said: "Don't be surprised if I suddenly grab your hand, I'm kind of freaking out here."  She too, nervously giggled and grabbed my hand saying: "Let's just start out this way, I'll feel better too."  So Professor Oglesbee and I trekked up the mountain side hand in hand.  At one point I asked what we would do if a car came (the path is very narrow) and before she could answer, headlights appeared behind us and she yanked me to the side of the path.  It's a good thing we were holding hands.  Calves were burning and breathing was ragged when we reached a small plateau and suddenly heard a man shout.  "We are going to be ax murdered," I thought.  We gripped hands tighter and Lisa began praying out loud for protection.  A light appeared up ahead and she shouted, "Whitney?!"  There were screams from them and from us as the group materialized in front of us.  We had mutually scared the stuff right out of each other.  From there we continued down the mountain together, and stilled the rampant beating of our hearts...]

God placed me in the perfect host family.  They welcomed me with open arms and have allowed me to be a part of their family.  I will hold them in my heart always.  Francisca has mothered me and loved me as her own.  Daniela and Rodrigo are my siblings and I love being an older sister!  Dani and I have become close and I will miss our talks.  I will never be able to convey, to you or to them, how much their love has touched me.

Chrystal Joy Beard!  This friendship was an unexpected explosion of blessing to me.  She came to Spain with World Partners and I did not get to know her until this past week.  This friendship came at just the right time.  I was feeling low, and she encouraged me.  Then she offered me her friendship and opened her heart to me.  I  am so humbled by her openness, trust, and her maturity and wisdom.  She speaks truth to me and is always ready to encourage.

I cannot thank God enough for the blessings he has given me in the way of relationships here in Alcoy.  I cannot wait to return and see my Alcoyano friends, and I am excited to continue to walk in these new friendships back home.


The Kiddos!

Meet my little English Campers!!!

Orange Group: 5&6 year olds plus one 4yr old.
Elena, Caridad
Trouble makers, to be sure!  But cute as buttons to the last...  Elena has a knack for English and she LOVES hugs!  Caridad would draw butterflies on the board all day, if I let her.

An active child, as I'm sure you can guess... Jordi showed up at camp one morning with a cast, but it hasn't slowed him down much.

Our little 4yr old angel.  She loves to dance and doesn't really get the whole English thing, which is ok. Ian has a little crush on this little guapa.

This is the little sister of Carlos, from the blue group.  They adore one another.  Carlos went on and on about how talented she is and about what a fabulous artist she is.  Sweet as can be... little Ana.

Inma has two older siblings at the camp, Amy and Joseph.  Inma is quiet and misses her mama very much, but loves English camp!

This is the son of my profs, Dr. Eric and Lisa Oglesbee.  He is just learning to read, so he really enjoys the English camp, even though he speaks (quite a lot...) English already.

The Blue Group: 11&12 year olds
Carlos is a performer to the core.  If anyone was born for the stage, it was this child.  He sings, he acts, he dances, and he is hilarious to boot.  

Carlos's alter ego...

Saul is a little punk!  He is Edgar's little brother (Edgar goes to Mark and Carla's church and is helping out at the camp).  He's fun to pick on, and being a little brother, he picks right back.

Josiah and Silas are the sons of Jessica Beldon, one of the other Bethel students here doing a practicum.  They are helpful in the classroom when you need an example that you know will be correct!


All. Boy.  Love Julen, he is a great kid.  At first, he was a little too cool for school, but now he loves it.  

I can  not get enough of his cute little face!!!  He reminds me so much of Jonah from Sleepless in seattle that I can hardly stand it.

Maria, Claudia, Marta
Daniela, Claudia, Mariola
These girls are all so smart!  They pick up on the English so fast, though they like to pretend that they don't get it.  Daniela is my host sister, and she and Maria both returned to camp for the second 2 weeks.

The Red Group: 9&10 year olds- my favorite age group! <3 4th graders...

Gabriel, Javier, Adria
My favorite campers (but shhh... don't tell!).  They are little stinkers but smart as whips and adorable as all get out.  Gabriel and Adri both attend the Hanson's church, Monte Sion.

Irene, Africa
Beautiful and smart... but terribly chatty!  Go figure :)

Joseph is nothing if not sweet.  A little ditzy at times, but always sweet and gentle.

This boy knew all the answers, all the time.  Very smart, and sometimes I think he got bored!

Don't let that adorable face fool you.  This is a little smarty pants!  He wants his own way and will connive, ever so subtly and sweetly, to get it.  If that doesn't work, he may revert to brute force.  Watch out.

Marta, Mareya
Quiet Marta and huggy Mareya.  Mareya loves to tickle and likes having her hair french braided.  She's a little goof ball and lots of fun.  Marta has been difficult to get to know, but she always has a smile and is a little ray of sunshine.

Martin... he's a handful.  He has a tendency toward violence; he loves to hit, kick, pull hair, and pinch.  He doesn't like to pay attention or obey, and [unfortunately for us] is a natural leader.

The Green Group: 7&8 year olds... these cute kids terrorized the camp with their crazy antics and constant energy.
Adrian, Pere, and little Amy in the back
Crazy, crazy kids!  They LOVE games and having their picture taken.  Amy loves to be in her own little world...

Sara? and Andrea
The smarty pants and the sporty girl.  Andrea is Adrian's sister and they are very nearly connected at the hip at times.  

Paula, Rodrigo, Adriana
Paula is bright and obstinate.  Rodrigo is absolutely brilliant and knows more English than probably any of the kids in the camp.  He is almost always translating what we say to the rest of the class.  Adriana is cute and sweet, but easily distracted. :)

Vega (pronounced Begga) is a little young for this group but she keeps up with the rest just fine.  Her little feet don't touch the floor when she sits at her desk!


El Campamento

I realized I have yet to write about what I really came to Spain to do: the World Partners English Camps.
There are two camps, a morning camp for kids and an evening camp for adults.

The month long camp for adults consists of an hour of class and an hour of conversation practice each night, Monday through Thursday.  This camp meets at the church, La Iglesia Bautista Monte Sion.  The students vary in age from 13 year olds to 60-somethings.  They are split up into three classes according to their level of English knowledge.  Ben Klimek teaches the Advanced class, I teach the Intermediate class, and Jessica Beldon teaches the beginners.  We were required to have a syllabus and lesson plans for our class a few weeks in advance, but upon beginning the classes, many changes had to be made to my meticulous plans (second post).  Creating a classroom environment and activities that are interesting and relevant to both 13 year old boys and 40 year old women continues to be a challenge for me.

The kids camp takes place at La Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (the official language school) of Alcoy.  The children are at the school from 9:30 to 1:15 Monday through Friday.  The camp is 10 days long.  We will have put on two complete kids camps by the end of July.  Ben, Jessica, and I each teach three times during the ten day period.  Our teacher for this TESOL practicum (teaching English to speakers of other languages), Lisa Oglesbee, will teach on the tenth and final day of both camps.  The students visit four stations during the day, each for 45 minutes.  Each day is assigned a different country that speaks English, and each station follows a theme of that country.  The other stations are sports, music, and art.  We also come together for a snack, mid-morning, that consists of a bocadilla (a sandwich), a desert, and a juice.  [Here, they don't mess around when it comes to snacks and meal times.]  There are four groups of kids that rotate through the stations.  5-6 yr olds, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12 yr olds.    The idea was to teach the same English lesson to all groups.  As you can imagine, it is quite a feat to make a lesson palatable to both a 5 year old and a 12 year old.

FLEXIBILITY has become our watchword here at English Camp Alcoy.


Home by Any Other Name

I’m sorry my posts are so patchwork.  I try to make them flow, but life happens and doesn’t stop to consider my audience… K.

The streets here are becoming more familiar.  I can get to and from the church by myself, and to the school by myself.  Coming home from school is another story altogether because every time it seems we take a different bus and get off at a different spot!  Ay.

A little about my weekend:
I swam in the Mediterannean Sea.
I went to a museum dedicated to the art of Falla making.  (giant sculpturey things that they judge and then burn the best one in and interesting ceremony)
I saw sharks, belugas, dolphins, penguins, and got a temporary tattoo at the Oceanographic Aquarium. (best dolphin show I have ever seen.  EVER.)
I shopped in Valencia and practiced lisping my imbedded ‘s’s.
I got a very Spanish pair of shoes in an effort to look a bit less Americana…
I ate Spanishized Chinese food and heard our Asian waitress speak Spanish… weird culture crossovers.
I went to a concert in the city of Ibi and acquired a new little brother, whose name, ironically enough, is Carlos.

I have been struck by my lack of homesickness.  For those of you who know me well, you know that homesickness is to me and coughing is to a smoker.  A day away from home is a week, a week is a month, and a month or more, unfathomable.  I have always struggled with separation; some of my earliest and most poingent memories are of the searing pain of hopelessness and bereftment that I felt upon being left in the nursery at church.  I remember calling my parents during a one night sleep-over across the street, and crying silently in my bunk at prairie camp Jr. ResiTour.  Unfortunately, it only grew stronger with age and this I attribute to losing my brother.  Separation feels like loss, and loss induces panic.  For me, homesickness is not a mild longing for familiar surroundings.  Homesickness is an illness that grips  me and reminds me of mortality and the possibility of never seeing loved ones again.  It is debilitating and consuming.  Thus, my biggest fear concerning this trip and my future trip to la Repulica Dominicana was my ability to function in spite of inevitable homesickness.  Praise be to Him who is able to do more than I could ever ask or imagine.  I miss home.  But I can breathe.  I want to hug Mama and Daddy but I do not find my days darkened by depression.  No feeling of panic greets me in the mornings.  This miracle I can only attribute to Jesus and to you, my intercesors.   Alcoy is not Indiana, but they speak the language of my heart here.  I am not surrounded by my family, but God has added to me my Alcoyana family that loves and cares for me.  Spain is not Home, but it has become a home.


I am a teacher!

I survived my first day teaching English (barely).
So many things went wrong...  but I believe that it was most likely a cleverly placed Providential move.  I planned and planned and planned and when I finally felt that I had everything right where I wanted (in my control), it all fell apart.  I had to completely trust that Jesus had everything under HIS control, and that was all that mattered.  [I am having a great deal of trouble with this next sentence because I can only form it in spanish.]  I was forced to remember that he is faithful to me and that it is not by my power that his work happens.    I had to rework my entire lesson and do it without the powerpoint that I had so meticulously created.  At least I still had the pictures saved on my computer.  Oh, wait.  No.  They blew a fuse downstairs and we lost our fans (we don't have air conditioning, only fans), and the projector.  The five and six year olds were too hot and too tired and too riled up to learn vocabulary and grammar.  So, I gave up and tried to teach them only vocab.  Then I gave up and tried to teach them one solitary word.  Butterfly.  At the end of the most tiring hour, I pointed to a picture of a butterfly on the board for the hundredth (literally 100th) and said, "what is this?  Que es eso?"  The response?  "MARIPOSA!"  Ok.  Yes.  Mariposa.  Go in peace.

Though I didn't have my precious plans, the rest of the classes went really well.  I enjoyed the kids and they didn't seem to hate the lesson.  I know many things that I will change, but it went really well for falling apart ten minutes before the children came...

Tonight was also the first night of adult classes.  I'm teaching the Intermediate class and my class dynamic is very interesting.  I have six 14-16 year olds, and eight ladies in their 40s and 50s.  :-)  I was very nervous and so were they.  We only got through half the lesson and class had hardly begun when I realized that my lessons are too advanced for them.  I had been told I would be teaching a class of Intermediate-high and Advanced-low students.  Instead, I have a class of mostly Intermediate-low students and a few Intermediate mid level.  Despite this change in my plans (again), we had a good class and then a fabulous conversation hour.  I love my students!  I am humbled by the fact that I am still a student and they wish to learn from me.

I could go on for hours...  but I won't.  Some interesting things:  I see signs admonishing us to "vote communist!"  and grafiti that says: "a good nazi is a dead nazi".  I saw a dalmation today.  I miss my dog.  You can buy cheese in the market shaped like a giant hershey's kiss... it is called "titty cheese" in spanish.  Yes.  Because it is apparently shaped like a boob.  In my personal opinion, the person who named it has never seen a normal boob.

I must go.  Vaya con Dios.


Teaching, Toes, and General Splendor

There are so many things about which I could write… but which are worthy of the minimal time I have?

Last time I wrote I was very nervous because I was to begin teaching the next morning.  Except, I was wrong.  Surprise, surprise.  I didn’t have the schedule correct in my head and MY first day of teaching is not until tomorrow.  I also found out that the lessons I planned are far too advanced for the level of English that the children know.  This, though throwing a bit of a wrench in my plans, does make my life a bit easier.  The missionaries told us today (as opposed to months and months ago, when we started planning…. Ah, flexability) that they really only wanted us to teach some vocabulary and to entertain the kids.  Not exactly as I planned, but we’ll go with it!  [If anyone has any brilliant ideas for group games to do with kids that don’t speak English, I’d be much obliged.]

I love the city of Alcoy.  Spain is so beautiful.  I can see mountains past the appartment buildings!  I think of my sister every time I see the mountains because she loves them so.  (I just posted pictures on facebook!) There are parks everywhere and lots of people walking down street with no signs.  My madre is certain that I can find my way about, walking and riding the bus, but all of the buildings and stores look the same to me!  I’ve only been here for three days, and I am sure that I would be hopelessly lost without a guide and without street signs!

As I said, there are tons of people walking everywhere.  My family and I are no exception.  I like to walk, but I am NOT used to walking this much!  I expect that I will soon adapt.  The sidewalks here are shiny… and very slick, especially when wet.  I had surgery on my toe on my left foot the week before I left for Spain.  Walking about in in the rain, wearing flipflops with a very tender toe on the slipperiest sidewalks every made is not the brightest or safest of ideas.  As it so happens, I managed to slip off the curb and injure a toe on my right foot, instead.  A splintered nail stuck in my toe and a great deal of blood later, and I was hobbling up and down the steep sidewalks of Alcoy like a regular anciana! (old woman)  My freshly injured toe is quite healed now, but later I slipped again and stubbed the toe that had the operation, and it is fairing poorly.  As I do a great deal of walking, your prayers in this regard are appreciated.

I have written far more than is acceptable, and I hope you will forgive me!  I also hope you will forgive my grammar, as this is hastily written and not (cringe) proof-read.



I am so blessed!

My host family is wonderful.  They are so patient with me, and so delighted that I speak Castellano... (it´s castellano here, not spanish.  The people are Spanish, the language is Castellano o Valenziano.)  I´ve already learned so much, and I can hear myself beginning to adopt the accent.  The interesting thing is that my host mom is from Salvador, so my latino accent doesn´t bother her at all.  Not everyone is so accepting, however.  One vendor at the market spent a good deal of effort trying to fix the way I speak...  She was unsuccesful. 

Tonight is Spanish Church, and I can hardly wait.  I have met several of Francisca´s friends so I will know some people.  Tomorrow I begin teaching and I am so very nervous.  As God has calmed so many of my fears thus far, and proved them to be unfounded, I am certain that He will remain faithful to me in this situation as well.  Your prayers are appreciated.